Veterinarians recommend annual wellness checks for the same reason your dentist and family doctor recommend them – for prevention and early detection of illnesses. Being proactive with your pet’s health can help you share a quality of life that’s as healthy, comfortable, and active as possible. Additionally, an annual wellness check ensures any problems are caught early, saving your pet unnecessary pain and saving you money.
Here’s what happens during annual wellness checks for pets:
A physical exam involves observing the general appearance of your pet and uses the information to determine your pet’s overall health. During the exam, every part of your pet’s body will be examined, listened to, or palpated (felt). The physical exam for your pet includes:
- Feeling the abdominal organs
- Listening to the heart and lungs
- Checking the dental health
- Checking hips and knees
- Observing posture and demeanor
- Assessing the haircoat and skin
- Evaluating the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, face, musculoskeletal system, and lymph nodes
- Assessing overall body condition and weight
Pet physical exams are also known as a “Nose to Tail” exam. If any abnormalities are found, your vet may recommend further testing for proper diagnosis and/or treatment. This could include ultrasounds, radiographs, urine analysis, an overnight observation or blood work. Some of these tests may become regular to help monitor diseases, illnesses and medications once diagnosed.
Medical History Updates and Checks
Your vet will review your pet’s medical history and ask for any further information to get a clear picture of his or her health. The vet will also collect information regarding your pet’s lifestyle including:
- Their level of physical activity
- Normal body functions, such as sleeping, eating, bowel function, urination, hearing, and vision
- Any current health concern
- Previous medical conditions, including a review of medication your pet takes and previous surgeries
- Current worming and parasite preventive regimen
- Current weight and vitals
- Dates and results of previous preventive procedures
Detailed notes from your pet’s annual wellness visit will be maintained for future reference.
Vaccinations are essential as they help your pet develop a defensive level of antibodies. Thereby protecting your pet from communicable diseases. Proper vaccination can help your pet resist diseases and recover quickly if they become infected. During your annual wellness visit, your vet may recommend vaccines depending on your pet’s overall health, lifestyle, age, area of residence, and history of vaccination. Staying up to date on core vaccines is important for all pets, however, your vet may suggest additional vaccines if your pet is often outdoors, enrolled in doggie daycare, or frequents grooming salons and dog parks.
In addition to a physical exam, your pet will be screened for intestinal parasites and heartworm disease. Pets are susceptible to fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites, including hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and heartworms. These parasites can cause serious diseases and some can be transmissible to people, especially children. Your vet may recommend a fecal worm exam to look for the presence of parasite eggs. Proper treatment is administered based on the results.
Other screening tests that may be recommended include a thyroid assessment, organ function screening, and Complete Blood Count (CBC) to check for early signs of an underlying or developing health issue that is not going to be seen on a physical exam.
Wellness Plan Setup for Next Year
At the end of your pet’s annual wellness checks, you can set a date for an annual or semi-annual evaluation and create next year’s calendar. With a routinely planned visit, you will become familiar with your pet’s long-term health. Pet owners who stay up to date with their pet’s health status tend to seek care before health conditions become an emergency. It’s also a great way to budget for expected medical expenses.
Naples Coastal Animal Hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and dedicated professionals ready to handle all aspects of your pet’s care. Your pet’s wellbeing is our priority. Contact us today to learn more about our wellness checks and schedule an appointment at our fear-free facility.